I don’t really know what to call this (a sauce? a topping?), but we’ve made it several times as an easy way to combine many different preserved/stored ingredients into a delicious meal. Thick and richly flavored, we’ve served it both on pasta or polenta (pictured below) and it could make an excellent bruschetta as well. I’m including notes on the ingredient sources, as well, as this is almost entirely an on-farm meal drawing heavily on the diverse foods we put up for winter. This could easily be made with purchased items, but was especially pleasing as an on-farm meal. It could be made with all fresh ingredients, too, but would likely be thinner and saucier; I like the thick, lumpy texture the preserved items give it. Amounts are my best guess; farm-sourced ingredients in italics.
After having a very nice vegetable curry at Bluebird Bistro on our recent trip, I was determined to recreate something similar at home. I’ve made various forms of curries for many years, but generally relied on the crutch of manufactured curry paste. This time, I decided to ditch the paste (which we were out of anyway) and create my own spice mix, based on the abundant varieties of on-farm peppers we dried this year. These have an amazing, strong flavor when used in a spice mix, but I have no idea if store-bought ones would be as potent, so you may want to experiment if that’s what you use.
It’s a good winter recipe, relying on well-storing items like leeks and sweet potatoes, and easily frozen items like peas, though obviously you could use fresh ingredients at other times. I don’t have a photo, but this came out wonderfully and was quite easy to make. The amounts are estimates, as I didn’t take notes while making it. On-farm ingredients in italics.
4-6 dried anaheim peppers (4″ long)
2 dried jalapenos
1/4 cup chopped dried bell peppers
1/2t annato seed (a Filipino spice)
1.5 lb sweet potatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick
2 cups snow peas
4 small leeks, chopped into rounds 1/4″ thick
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 14oz can coconut milk
1T soy sauce
To make the spice mix, roughly chop all the dried peppers with a knife, then place in a food processor with a sharp blade. Blend for as long as it takes to shatter these into a powdery mix with a few stubborn chunks remaining. Meanwhile, grind the other spices with a mortar and add to the processor when you’re almost done. Warning: the pepper powder/dust is pretty strong and will have you sneezing if you’re not careful. The aroma is delightful, though.
Meanwhile, bring the coconut milk to a simmer in a large saucepan and add the sweet potatoes, leeks, garlic, soy sauce, and spice mix (you might start with half and see how the flavor develops, as my estimated quantities are just that). Simmer, stirring now and then, until the sweet potatoes are almost soft. You may need to add water if there isn’t enough liquid to cover everything. A few minutes before you want to eat, add the snow peas so they cook just enough; you don’t want them reduced to mush.
Serve over rice or noodles.
We like making things from scratch rather than buying them, especially condiments and processed foods; I’ve been making my own mustard for years. This fall, as I began to experiment with both pork and a smoker, developing a reliable BBQ sauce recipe became a high priority. After several rounds of experimentation, here’s one I came up with that we’ve really liked. It would probably be considered a Kansas City-style sauce, a sweet/sour tomato sauce that’s rich and tasty. Using our own farm-smoked chipotle peppers really adds to the flavor. It doesn’t have to be a meat condiment; the flavor is plenty good for adding flavor to rice, eggs, and lots of other things. As I often do, I’ll note on-farm ingredients in italics.
Everyone’s heard of stuffed peppers; now try it with tomatoes. This year we planted a unique variety called Striped Cavern, which has thick sidewalls and a nearly empty cavity. Thus you can easily slice open the top, scoop out the inside like a pumpkin, and stuff with all sorts of interesting fillings. Then you can roast the whole thing, or just serve raw. I think it would be fun to fill with gazpacho as a tomato-bowl kind of thing.
Here’s a recipe for a cooked version that worked well for a quick after-market dinner on Saturday evening. This is based on Deborah Madison’s recipe “Tomatoes Stuffed with Herbed Grains” in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
Mix the stuffing together in a bowl. The specific ingredients are infinitely adaptable based on what’s on hand. This is a general guide, with the actual ingredients that I used this time in parentheses. I had enough stuffing for about 5 tomatoes.
–a cup or two of cooked grain (leftover brown rice)
–a couple of cloves of minced garlic or a small onion (2 cloves Samarkand garlic)
–a hanful of finely chopped veggies (a Doe Hill Golden Bell pepper & a small Opalka tomato)
–several tablespoons or so of minced herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano)
–a few chopped nuts (almonds)
–cheese, amount to taste (~1/2 cup of ricotta from our goats)
–salt & pepper, to taste
Cut around the stem of the Striped Cavern tomatoes and scoop out any innards. Stuff the tomatoes with the filling. Put in an oiled baking dish. Brush the outside of the tomatoes with oil. Bake at 375º for about 25 minutes, until the filling is hot.
The Striped Cavern tomatoes are prolific right now, but were hard to convince customers of at market. I got a lot of “Oh, wow, that’s really interesting!” followed by a slow backing away from the crazy man. Give them a try this weekend while they’re ripe and ready.
Please welcome guest author Joanna, with a run-down of the methods that we used to prepare garlic for our recent on-farm tasting event, along with a few notes about how we might tweak the recipes in future.
I basically used this recipe for roasted garlic. Roasting in muffin tins worked well, because I could label the aluminum foil that covered each variety of garlic to keep the varieties straight. I ended up cooking longer than 35 minutes. Based on a trial run a few days ago, head size matters; larger heads need more cooking time. I didn’t add any salt, but a sprinkling probably would have been a good idea. Two teaspoons of oil was slightly more than needed, but the leftover oil was good on bread.
It actually took a couple of tries to get this right, but the approach that I finally came up with was well received. I knew I needed enough garlic butter to serve 12 people, and I initially tried cooking the garlic in the full amount of butter. That was too much butter, and the flavor didn’t come though well. Tried the same thing with oil, and, again, too much oil, not enough garlic flavor coming through. That’s when I realized that most garlic butter recipes online call for raw garlic mixed with softened butter, but the whole point of this tasting was to use sauteed garlic. So, I finally found this recipe from Fine Cooking that served as the basis for my actual approach. Here’s what I did:
~4 tsp finely minced garlic (anywhere from 2 to ~8 cloves)
2 Tbl olive oil
1/4 tsp salt (I used “Real Salt”, which is moderately coarse.)
1/4 cup butter
I heated a small skillet on low to medium low heat and added 2 Tbl olive oil & 1/4 tsp salt. I monitored the oil temperature with a thermometer (for consistency’s sake), adding the garlic when the temperature was ~180-190ºF. I sauteed for ~2 minutes, stirring & crushing the garlic in the process, and lifting the pan off of the heat as needed to prevent burning. After allowing the sizzling to subside, I poured the oil mix over the butter & mixed thoroughly. This went into the refrigerator, and I pulled it out a couple of hours before the tasting to allow the butter to soften, mixing it just before serving so that the garlic chunks were dispersed.
Though it was a bit on the salty side for my taste buds, the overall response was very positive.
This is pretty simple. I guessed on the quantities, aiming to make it pretty garlicky:
1/2 cup chevre
~1 Tbl garlic (2 or 3 largish cloves)
1 tsp olive oil
I made the cheese a few days before, though certainly any chevre would work. I coarsely minced the garlic, then pulverized in a large mortar and pestle, adding ~1 tsp of olive oil for lubrication. Then I added the pulverized garlic into the cheese and mixed well. I did this a few days in advance of the tasting to let the flavors blend.
There are lots of creative ways to use abundant summer cucumbers. Here’s an easy one: mini-sandwiches. Just take a good, crispy cuke like our Poone Kheeras, slice into solid discs, spread with goat cheese (like chevre or feta), add a leaf or two of fresh basil, and complete with another cuke slice. These are easy, tasty, and cute. They’d make a great party dish or kid snack.
Cuke slices can also take the place of crackers and chips; put those expensive English tea wafers back on the shelf and use cukes to serve cheese, dips, salsas, and more. The crunchy, sweet flavor complements lots of things and is cheaper and healthier.
Any type of summer squash can be used in these moist, tasty cookies. This recipe makes a big batch, so think twice before doubling. Extras freeze well.
4¼ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
½ -1 tsp cloves, ground
1 tsp salt
2-3 cups grated zucchini/summer squash (approx. 2 medium squash)
1½ -2 cups sugar
½ cup butter
½ cup yogurt
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
2 cups raisins
• Preheat oven to 375ºF.
• Pull butter out of refrigerator and allow it to warm up for a few minutes.
• In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.
• In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, and yogurt. Use a large wooden spoon if doing this by hand. Add eggs and combine thoroughly.
• Add zucchini to wet ingredients and mix.
• Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Stir just enough to combine.
• Fold in nuts and raisins.
• Drop batter by the spoonful on greased cookie sheets.
• Bake 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned.
Everyone has a favorite zucchini bread recipe. This is ours.
3 cups flour (up to 50% whole wheat flour)
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ cup oil (such as canola)
½ cup yogurt
1½ cups sugar (or 1 cup sugar & 1/2 cup honey)
zest from 2 small lemons
1½ tsp vanilla
2-3 cups grated zucchini/summer squash (approx. 2 medium squash)
1 cup raisins
2/3 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
• Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
• Grease and flour 2 loaf pans or one bundt pan.
• In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
• In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients. Cream oil, sugar, and yogurt. Add eggs and combine. Mix in vanilla, lemon zest, and zucchini.
• Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
• Fold in raisins and nuts.
• Transfer batter to pan(s).
• Bake 45-60 minutes for loaf pans, or closer to 70 minutes for a bundt pan, until toothpick comes out clean. [Sorry for the vague cooking times; we typed up this recipe when we were living in National Park Service housing with very unreilable ovens, and I never seem to remember to remember to write down the actual cooking time in a well-behaved oven.]
• Cool for ten minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack.